NCAA Football

College Football Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to AP and Amway Week 7 Polls

The college football season has reached the point where it is logical to question why we even have polls.

After all, if 11 of the supposed Top 25 teams in the AP Poll lose in one week, do we really know anything about where teams stand in relation to other ones?   

Week 6 brought a historically strange set of games, as five of the top eight-ranked teams in the AP Poll lost for the first time ever in a single week. In fact, the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 teams in the AP Poll all lost.

Here is a look at the resulting carnage in the AP, Amway Coaches and Bleacher Report Top 25:

With all the chaos going on in the college football world, Marcus Hartman of Fox Sports Ohio and Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com pointed out the ironic part of Saturday's results:

Still, the upsets were incredible, regardless of how meaningful the polls actually are this season. ESPN Stats & Info, SportsCenter and Rachel Nichols of CNN noted just how unlikely all the games truly were in Week 6:

Filling out a Top 25 poll can't be easy after 11 of the ranked teams lose, but it is still noteworthy to see Oklahoma ahead of TCU and Oregon ahead of Arizona after the Horned Frogs and Wildcats pulled the respective upsets.

Ryan Ginn of Scout.com pointed out the backward logic:

Ginn wasn't the only person to acknowledge some of the discrepancies in the Amway rankings. Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman and Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports also commented on the recent polls:

That wasn't as much of an issue in the AP Poll, as Eric Seger of theozone.net said:

Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch pointed out just how drastic some of the movement was in the AP Poll after the upsets:

There has been some recent debate about which team should be rated No. 1 (just look at that spot on the Bleacher Report rankings), but Florida State's coach Jimbo Fisher had an answer for that, via Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel: “Polls, we can’t control. All we can control is how we play. We just keep playing ball and we’ll be fine. Polls are for the polls and the voters. If we keep winning and doing what we do, we’ll be fine."

One team that doesn't have to worry about being ranked No. 1. is LSU, which lost in blowout fashion to Auburn Saturday. Ross Dellenger of The Advocate noted what that meant for the Tigers in relation to the polls:

Arash Markazi of ESPN had bad news for fans in the Los Angeles area and the Pac-12 in general:

Perhaps the best part of the new polls is looking forward to the next batch of games. Mandel was doing just that:

That showdown is sure to be the highlight of all the games on deck for Saturday, which isn't a surprise coming from the SEC West. 

With highly ranked teams in Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and the typically strong LSU, the only worry now from that division has to be that everyone will beat each other. That could have a trickle-down impact when it comes to the College Football Playoff, as other conference champions gradually move up the polls.

One thing is for sure, though: No position is safe in the AP or Amway Polls if we see any more weeks like we just did.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Hits and Misses from Week 6

A wild Week 6 of the 2014 college football season is over, as folks all across the country ask themselves if what they saw Saturday was real life.

In fact, it was real, and voters everywhere now have to put together a top 25. Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated has an early preview of what this might look like

As is customary every Sunday, The Associated Press and USA Today released their new Top 25 polls. You can also check out the latest Bleacher Report Top 25 for comparison.

I must let you know ahead of time that everyone who turned in a ballot was in panic mode, so black is bound to be white, up will be down, etc., etc. 

So which teams were appropriately ranked in the latest Top 25 polls? Which ones weren't? The answers are in the following slides.

Begin Slideshow

AP College Football Poll 2014: Complete Week 7 Rankings Released

Pure, unadulterated anarchy. And Katy Perry. If asked to describe Week 6 of the 2014 college football season, the discussion pretty much begins and ends there.

Four of the nation's top six teams are gone. Five of the top eight. In their place is the rise of Mississippi, the restoration of the national spotlight on one of the nation's biggest powers and the nation's two best teams from 2013 moving on unscathed as the world burns beneath them.   

Florida State earned its first relaxing victory over an FBS opponent (Wake Forest) to make it a school-record 21 straight wins and stay at No. 1. With a nationally televised obliteration of LSU, Auburn re-ascends to its 2013 perch at No. 2. Looking at the remainder of the Associated Press Top 25—and Bleacher Report's iteration—a very clear picture of a college football world turned upside down begins to show:

Let's start in Eugene, where former No. 2 Oregon gave fans a preview of what was to come. Hamstrung by a depleted offensive line and a defense that could not get stops when it needed, the Ducks became the first upset victim in a 31-24 loss to Arizona. Terris Jones-Grigsby finished off a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive with just under three minutes remaining and Oregon's drive stalled when Marcus Mariota was strip-sacked deep inside his own territory as the Wildcats upset the Ducks for the second straight season.

Freshman Anu Solomon threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, while Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson combined for 207 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona is 5-0 for the first time since the height of the boy band era.

"Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course," Rodriguez told reporters after the game. "This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road."

All the excitement in Eugene (or, more accurately, the despair) was less than 48 hours before the world realized that this is Mississippi's world. We're just living in it. First, in Starkville, Mississippi State sent its second straight shot across the bow at a Top 10 SEC opponent. Dak Prescott accounted for five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) and 336 yards as the Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M, 48-31, in a game that was a much bigger blowout than the score indicates.

Prescott, who has ascended to Heisman favorite status, carved up the Aggies defense with a series of well-placed passes and grind-it-out runs. Tim Tebow comparisons were thrown out multiple times during the broadcast, both because Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was Tebow's offensive coordinator at Florida and because Prescott's performance was at times Tebowian.

As Prescott was again burrowing his way into conversations nationwide, the thrill was being taken out of Kenny Hill (sorry). Hill threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, but two garbage-time scores undersold the depths of his struggles. He threw three interceptions, two which came with the game was still in hand, and found no success down the field as Mississippi State forced him to beat them underneath.

“Little miscues here and there, stuff that is easy to fix,” Hill told reporters. “You all will see it. We’re going to get it fixed.”

The Bulldogs ascend to No. 3 with the win. They will have a chance to make it three straight victories against Top 10 opponents next week when Auburn visits. The Tigers' 41-7 thrashing of LSU helped stop the bleeding from all the upsets across the conference.

Of course, for bleeding to stop it has to begin. Which is where we head back to Mississippi. Oxford, specifically. Where the aforementioned Ms. Perry was swinging corn dogs, throwing Alabama headgear off Lee Corso's head and being the most important factor in Ole Miss' 23-17 upset of Alabama.

OK, maybe the latter point is an exaggeration. Perhaps we can credit Bo Wallace for his 251 yards and three touchdowns or the Rebels' defense for clamping down in the fourth quarter, most notably when Senquez Golson got one foot down on a Blake Sims interception to clinch the game. Ole Miss is 5-0 for the first time in more than five decades, per the Associated Press, with this win proving a seminal moment for Hugh Freeze's rebuilding effort.

With an affable charm and deft recruiting touch, Freeze took over his hometown team coming off a 2-10 season and led it to national prominence in three seasons. The Rebels coach has built his core around a suffocating defense and solid aerial attack led by Wallace, who avoided throwing an interception for the second time all season.

"He made some big-time plays," Freeze told reporters. "He just played so solid. On that last touchdown, that ball was right where it needed to be for us."

Speaking of big interceptions, Paul Dawson's 41-yard touchdown off an errant Trevor Knight throw was perhaps the biggest of the weekend. Dawson's return sparked an excellent defensive fourth quarter from TCU, which earned a 37-33 win over then-fourth-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners and Horned Frogs engaged in an all-out shootout for the first 45 minutes, with both teams putting up 31 points and picking up yards in large chunks.

Dawson's pick ground that to a halt. Both teams strapped up defensively and gave their offenses a chance to win the game, but TCU stopped Samaje Perine on 4th-and-1 for no gain just outside the red zone to halt the Sooners' last good chance of taking control. Oklahoma's final drive ended with a failed Hail Mary that Knight threw out of the end zone.

"This isn't the defining moment of our season. There's a lot of football left," Knight told reporters. "Who knows what's down the road. It's early in the season, a one-loss team can still make it."

On the non-upset front, Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining to give Notre Dame a 17-14 win over Stanford. The Irish host North Carolina next week before their season-defining showdown with Florida State in Tallahassee on Oct. 18.

In East Lansing, Notre Dame rival Michigan State narrowly avoided squandering its 24-point fourth-quarter lead to beat Nebraska 27-22. The Cornhuskers scored the game's final 19 points and had a potential winning drive stall out at the Spartans 37. 

The swings were so big, so consuming that you could've been forgiven for being too exhausted to watch a Utah-UCLA game that got a 10:30 p.m. ET start and promised to end the day with a whimper. 

Welp.

A Tevin Carter pick-six in the first quarter instead set the tone for a perfect capper to a crazy Saturday, as the Utes went into Pasadena and earned a 30-28 upset. Devontae Booker rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown as the Utes pounded the ball 55 times on the ground to control the game's pace. Their game-winning drive, which culminated in a 29-yard Andy Phillips field goal, did not feature a single passing play.

"When you rush for 242 yards against the talent that UCLA has in the front seven, you've done some good work," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters.

UCLA's defeat was a long time coming for a team that had lived dangerously all season. Four of the Bruins' five games so far have been decided by one score, with Brett Hundley and Co. somehow finding a way to overcome the previous three times.

In all there were five ranked teams that lost to unranked opponents. BYU, USC and Wisconsin each went down against conference foes. 

The Cougars, Trojans and Badgers lead the quartet of teams ousted from the Top 25. The other joining the club is LSU, which has dropped its first two SEC contests. Taking their places are Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Utah. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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College Football Rankings 2014: Week 7 AP and Amway Standings Revealed

It was a bad week to be a ranked team in college football.

With 11 teams in the Top 25 polls taking a loss in Week 6, the college football rankings heading into Week 7 have been shaken to their core. When top programs like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and others fall this early in the season, the turnover in the rankings is huge news.

This was the wildest week of the 2014 season.

Here are the full Amway coaches, Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls and a breakdown of Week 6 of the college football season.

 

Breaking Down Week 6

If you missed Saturday’s action, you missed one of the most unpredictable weeks in recent college football memory.

While the Florida State Seminoles were able to win their game against Wake Forest, the majority of the Top 10 teams surrounding them in the standings lost. The biggest surprise was the formerly No. 2 Oregon Ducks falling to the Arizona Wildcats, 31-24, on Thursday night.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguezspoke to reporters about the underdog win:

Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course. This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road.

Fans should have known the week was going to be wild following Oregon’s stunning loss.

The Top 10 defeats didn’t stop with the Ducks, though. With Alabama falling to Ole Miss, Oklahoma losing a thriller to TCU, Texas A&M blown out by Mississippi State and UCLA stunned by Utah, there was no question that Saturday’s results would rock the rankings.

Ranked teams like BYU, Stanford, Nebraska, LSU, USC and Wisconsin also lost in Week 6.

Brett Edgerton of ESPN.com pointed out just how rare this many ranked teams falling in one week is for college football:

Losses for the aforementioned programs were devastating, but they have opened the door for underappreciated teams. With Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Michigan State beating their ranked foes and proving their worth as Top 10 programs, it was intriguing to see the shakeup toward the top of the polls.

One of the most impressive wins was Auburn’s victory over LSU, 41-7. LSU was ranked in the Top 15 coming into Saturday’s game, but the team was completely destroyed by Auburn, allowing 566 total yards. If the Tigers weren’t considered serious national championship contenders before, the lopsided win over LSU is all the proof the team needed.

While the Baylor Bears were able to pull out a hard-fought win over Texas, the sluggish performance from Baylor’s high-powered offense should raise some concerns for the team. The Bears are still a viable championship threat, but how the team bounces back against TCU next Saturday will determine if Baylor is a contender or a pretender.

Other ranked teams, like Georgia, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, East Carolina and Kansas State, all managed to take advantage of favorable matchups, but the focus will continue to be on the elite programs that were unable to walk out of Week 6 with a victory.

In case you forgot why you love college football, this week’s schedule of games was the perfect reminder.  

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Goal Post from Alabama-Ole Miss Game Ends Up in Rebels Fan's Apartment

Fans in the Southeastern Conference don't typically rush the field/court, but when they do, they make it memorable.

No. 11 Ole Miss upset No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, 23-17. A win of that magnitude was reason enough for Rebels fans to rush the field. Ole Miss fans proceeded to show why most schools protect the goal posts after a huge win or upset.

Rebels fans took down the goal post at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Then, some fans figured out a way to get the goal post out of the stadium and took it around campus.

Finally, the goal post made it into somebody's apartment.

Even the Ole Miss athletic director wanted in on the fun.

At that point, you can't even be mad at these fans for taking the goal post. You just have to be impressed that they were able to get it into an apartment.

[Twitter, Instagram; h/t SB Nation]

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Auburn Is the Best Team in the Country and Deserves to Be Ranked No. 1

Week 6 will go down as one of the craziest weeks in college football history, with 11 of the Associated Press Top 25 suffering losses, including previous No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. 

The two teams that battled it out for a full 60 minutes for last season's national championship remain standing.

Florida State topped Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday to run its record to 5-0, while Auburn obliterated then-No. 15 LSU 41-7 on Saturday night in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated to match the Noles' record. It should come as no surprise that the Seminoles and Tigers are ranked in the top two spots in the new Amway Coaches Poll and AP Top 25.

The order, however, should be reversed—as it is in the new B/R Top 25.

Auburn has proven this year that it not only is the same team as it was last year, but that it has improved by leaps and bounds. The offense has picked up right where it left off, with running back Cameron Artis-Payne stepping in for Heisman finalist Tre Mason and promptly topping the century mark in four of Auburn's five games. 

Quarterback Nick Marshall has replicated his success on the ground and has shown more touch on his passes—particularly over the last three games in which he has tossed seven touchdowns and only one interception. On Saturday, Marshall completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. This was in addition to the 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

"Nick played very well," head coach Gus Malzahn said after the game. "He threw the ball well and made some very good runs, and decisions on the read zone. Nick played like one of the better quarterbacks in the entire country."

New wide receiver Duke Williams has joined veteran Sammie Coates to create one of the most dangerous wide receiver one-two punches in the nation.

What stands out with this Auburn team, though, is the defense.

The Tigers currently rank 14th in the nation in total defense (306.6 YPG), 13th in yards per play (4.58) and 13th in rush defense (100.20). This despite opening the season against Arkansas—the seventh-best rushing attack in the country (316.6 YPG). The Tigers have held three opponents—San Jose State, Kansas State and Louisiana Tech—to under 3.2 yards per rushing attempt, and held LSU to 3.83 yards per rushing attempt on Saturday night.

"We know LSU is mostly a run team so we tried to stop that," said defensive tackle Montravius Adams in player quotes released by Auburn. "Whenever we stopped the run they would have to throw the ball and we stopped that too. We played a complete defensive game and that's what we wanted to do."

They've done it.

Meanwhile, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles were inconsistent yet again.

Sure, the 43-3 score makes it look like the 'Noles dominated Wake Forest, but it took a while. It was just 13-3 at halftime, and quarterback Jameis Winston—the reigning Heisman Trophy winner—wasn't as crisp as he has been against other teams, as Bud Elliot of TomahawkNation.com pointed out.

His stats were certainly good—22-of-39 for 297, one touchdown and one interception—but he's asked to do different things than Marshall.

Florida State boasts the ACC's second-worst rushing attack (133.2 YPG), have allowed the third-most sacks in the conference (13) and allowed opponents to convert 43.21 percent of their third-down conversions—93rd in the nation.

The Seminoles are getting credit for beating Auburn in last season's national championship game, which is a big reason why they've retained the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Since that game —a 34-31 nail-biter in which Florida State scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left—Florida State has proven that it is one of the best teams in the country, but not the best.

It's struggling to find a running game, the offensive line has issues, Winston hasn't been himself and the defense has proven to be a middle-of-the-pack unit in the ACC (347.8 YPG). Florida State has regressed. Not to a point where it should be out of the top four, but certainly enough to knock it from the No. 1 spot based on this season's body of work.

Auburn has progressed.

The offense has been able to replicate last season's success and added a new dimension with Williams, and the defense has taken a giant leap forward.

Florida State was the best team last year, but last year is history. Auburn has proven that it deserves the No. 1 ranking this year for its work this year, with the Noles battling it out with Baylor, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and others for the No. 2 spot.

It should be no contest.

 

Barrett Sallee is the Lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Connor Halliday Is the Best College Football Quarterback No One Is Talking About

The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU. (Both quarterbacks, incidentally, are out for the year with injuries. That should detract from much-deserved hype, however.) 

But the quarterback who isn't getting the level of national attention he deserves is Washington State's Connor Halliday. 

That's not to say that Halliday is an unknown player—he's a redshirt senior with 25 career starts—but he's been overshadowed by counterparts in his own conference. 

When pundits talk about the best quarterbacks in the country, the usual names include Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Florida State's Jameis Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty. So it's no wonder that Halliday's name comes up less often in that discussion. He's not even considered the top guy in his own league. 

It's time for Halliday to at least enter that discussion. 

In a 60-59 loss to Cal—more on that later—Halliday broke an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in addition to six touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Yes, Washington State's offense relies on the pass almost exclusively. Roughly 75 percent of the Cougars' plays come through the air. Therefore, there's a large degree of truth that Halliday's stats—3,052 yards and 26 touchdowns, and even seven interceptions, through six games—are inflated because of the offense in which he operates.

And yes, Cal's defense is still porous, giving up an average of 40 points per game. All of the passing defenses Halliday has played, in fact, have been bad. 

Halliday is going to get the "system quarterback" label, even though every coach ever has put players in positions that play to their strengths and philosophies. Ultimately, though, Halliday has to go out and execute. So far, he's done just that, and he's been visibly sharper than a year ago. 

The knocks on Halliday about playing in the Air Raid against weak defenses are just a couple of the things that inherently work against him, yet aren't really in his control.

Let's start with the one thing Halliday at least plays a part in: Washington State's 2-4 record. Wins and losses are team efforts, and Halliday contributes, for better or worse, to a team that doesn't have a winning record. 

At the same time, it's hard to pin Saturday's loss to Cal on Halliday, who, as Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com wrote, "did everything he could to get the Cougars the win." Washington State kicker Quentin Breshears missed a 19-yard go-ahead attempt in the final seconds of the game. 

“As a quarterback, you always want things in your hands,” Halliday said via Jennifer Chancellor of Cougfan.com. “I wish we would have taken one more shot in the end zone.” 

Washington State also typically plays late at night. Four of the Cougars' first six games have started at 10 p.m. ET or later. Three of those games have been on Pac-12 Networks, which not everyone gets. 

Put another way, Halliday isn't getting many favors as far as exposure is concerned. 

The senior quarterback has been excellent thus far, but for a variety of reasons, he hasn't garnered as many eyeballs as he should. 

Football has become a stats-happy sport that focuses heavily on quarterbacks. It's a wonder, then, that Halliday doesn't get more recognition since he perfectly fits the mold of what fans and media want. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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Connor Halliday Is the Best College Football Quarterback No One Is Talking About

The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Amway College Football Poll 2014: Complete Week 7 Rankings Released

There are weeks with upsets. There are weeks with some moving and shaking in the polls. And then there was this weekend.

This week was crazy. This week was unimaginable. This week was brilliant and fun and exhilarating (well, depending on your allegiances, that is). This week was one we'll never forget.     

Not surprisingly, the Amway Coaches Poll reflects the madness that was. Let's break down the poll and see if we can put this past weekend into perspective.

 

Poll

 

Analysis

Chaos. This week in college football was absolute chaos. Not surprisingly, this week's Coaches Poll reflects just that. 

Oregon? Lost. Alabama? Lost. Oklahoma? Lost. Texas A&M? Lost. UCLA? Lost. USC? Lost. BYU? Lost. Any semblance of sanity in the Top 25? Lost.

Some teams are sitting pretty, of course. After the weekend that was, Florida State should have some security atop the rankings. The Seminoles have beaten Oklahoma State and Clemson (with a backup quarterback), after all. One imagines the battle between who should be No. 1 throughout the season—Florida State and whichever SEC team is respectively atop the conference—will rage on.

Many other teams are left to contemplate their weaknesses, however. Is Oregon's offensive line good enough to keep the Ducks in the running for the playoff? Is Texas A&M's defense good enough to stop anyone? Can Oklahoma survive when Trevor Knight has to beat teams with his arm? Can Alabama rebound in the country's most stacked conference?

It won't be easy, because Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi are all legitimate contenders this season. The Ole Miss win over Alabama in particular shook things up in a major way.

“I don't know if this is the biggest win in program history,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze told Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. “I can't measure it next to the Archie [Manning] years. We've got to put it in the trash tomorrow.”

Indeed they do, because the SEC West is basically the Wild West at this point. Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Texas A&M all have a legitimate chance to win the division and, in turn, the SEC as a whole. As Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote, you don't win championships by lingering on victories over Alabama, however huge the moment was:

Under normal circumstances, what happened here Saturday is something that should be savored, not put under any sort of 24-hour rule. You can argue whether beating Alabama—something the Rebels hadn’t done in the Nick Saban era—was the best win in modern program history or simply the best without someone named Manning at quarterback. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Moments like this haven’t come often enough to be real picky about putting them in order.

But that’s the whole point for Ole Miss and Freeze, who will find themselves hovering around the nation’s top five this week. If there is going to be more to this season than one sun-splashed Saturday in The Grove, a visit from ESPN College GameDay and one glorious flooding of the field at Vaught-Hemingway, it’s time to get serious because the big goals are suddenly very real and the road to reach them just as daunting as ever.

It's hard to imagine there won't be at least one playoff team from the SEC West. If Ole Miss wants to be in that conversation, it indeed better put this one in the trash.

Of course, it isn't the only team that wants to put this past week in the trash. Ole Miss is just one of the few that is trying to forget so it stays focused on the future, and not trying to forget because the past is a bit too painful. 

Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and BYU can attest to that.

 

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ESPN College GameDay Headed to Starkville for Mississippi State vs Auburn Week 7

You're up, Starkville.

One week after watching Ole Miss upset Alabama, the ESPN College GameDay crew is making a short trip south to watch another undefeated team from Mississippi (Mississippi State) take on an undefeated team from Alabama (Auburn) in a game with considerable SEC West and College Football Playoff implications.

The show's Twitter account announced the news Sunday morning:

Auburn and Mississippi State are tied atop the SEC West with 5-0 overall records and 2-0 records in conference play. Both are coming off convincing wins over division rivals: Auburn's a 41-7 win over LSU, Mississippi State's a 48-31 win over Texas A&M. In my prediction of the Week 7 Associated Press Poll (which will come out Sunday afternoon), I had them ranked No. 2 and No. 5 in the country, respectively.

All of this makes Starkville an obvious choice to host GameDay, despite the crew having just visited the state of Mississippi this week. If it ain't broke, don't fix it…right?

Auburn beat Mississippi State in Week 3 last season, setting the stage for its miraculous national-title run with a wild 24-20 win. The Tigers trailed until the final 10 seconds of the game, at which point Nick Marshall found tight end C.J. Uzomah for the game-winning touchdown pass. It was the first of three miracles that would happen in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Earlier in the game, Marshall did something even crazier:

With that loss fresh in its mind, Mississippi State will not spend a long time celebrating last week's win. Especially now that it's considered a national title contender—and rightfully so—Dan Mullen's team is ready to seek revenge on the Tigers for last year's disappointment.

"It's Auburn time now," said offensive guard Ben Beckwith after the Texas A&M game, per Mike Herndon of AL.com. "We're going to go out and celebrate with our fans tonight, our student body, and we're going to be safe, but Sunday starts Auburn week."

The game many though would host GameDay this week during the preseason, Oregon at UCLA, lost a ton of luster when the Ducks and Bruins both fell during Week 6. TCU at Baylor must have been an intriguing option after the Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma—especially since it would have meant a visit to Baylor's new stadium—but it is hard to find fault with heading to Starkville for a game as huge as this one.

It's a great time for football in the Magnolia State.

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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Latest Predictions After Week 6 Standings

Things have changed.

After a week filled with upsets of the nation's top teams, it's hard to gauge which squads deserve to be in the second, third and fourth spots. The No. 1 Florida State Seminoles manhandled Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday, but the teams chasing the 'Noles weren't as successful.

On Thursday, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks were stunned by the unranked Arizona Wildcats. The weekend brought more calamity as the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide were beaten by the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels, and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners fell to the No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs. 

It wasn't just the top-four teams that slipped. Some of the teams that could have stepped also dropped their games on Saturday. The No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies and No. 8 UCLA Bruins were upset.

What do we do now? Here's the way the top four should look now.

  1. Florida State Seminoles
  2. Auburn Tigers
  3. Ole Miss Rebels
  4. Baylor Bears

Here's a look at the current situation for the contenders.

 

Auburn is Back in the National Championship Picture

Quarterback Nick Marshall and the Auburn Tigers took advantage of the opportunity to rise in the rankings. Marshall sliced up the reeling LSU Tigers' defense for 326 total yards and four touchdowns on Saturday.

Auburn came in ranked fifth, but with every team besides No. 1 Florida State losing ahead of them, the Tigers are a lock to move into one of the top four spots.

 

The Rebels Have Earned Respect

Ole Miss' win over Alabama was huge for several reasons. It was a victory within the tough SEC West division. It came over Bama—a program Ole Miss hadn't beaten since 2003—and the Rebels proved they have a quarterback capable of rising to the occasion against an elite defense.

Coming into the game, Bo Wallace had thrown six interceptions. Against Alabama, he didn't turn the ball over once, and he led a big second-half comeback.

If Ole Miss wants to be a serious contender for a national title, Wallace must continue to take care of the ball.

 

Baylor or Notre Dame?

With the Texas A&M Aggies being upset by the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday, the Baylor Bears are in position to step up right behind Auburn. 

Behind a strong running game and a stifling defense, Baylor smashed the Texas Longhorns 28-7.

Baylor has yet to face a ranked opponent, but that will change when Bryce Petty and Co. take on TCU in Week 7. For the time being, voters may keep the Bears out of the top four because of their weak schedule.

The run against non-ranked opposition will end soon. The Bears face the Horned Frogs next week. A win would solidify a spot in the top four.

Not many expected the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to be in the running for the national championship this year, but behind Everett Golson, the Golden Domers are close to the top of the rankings. Saturday's win over the Stanford Cardinal was the biggest of the season for Notre Dame.

Golson wasn't his sharpest against Stanford, as she threw a pick and completed just 46.5 percent of his passes, but he did come up with the game-winning touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining in the game.

Notre Dame should remain outside of the top four for now, but the Irish are simply waiting on their big chance against Florida State on Oct. 18.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Week 7 Standings for College's Top 25 Teams

No team was safe during a whirlwind college football slate that will force drastic ranking renovations heading into Week 7.

Something had to give during a huge Week 6 pitting several ranked schools against one another. Although the pecking order was sure to fluctuate regardless of the outcomes, several of those marquee matchups ended in upsets.

Of the top six squads, only Florida State and Auburn survived the weekend with undefeated records. Needless to say, those outcomes will produce a seismic shift in the upcoming polls.

Let's take a look at how all AP Top 25 teams fared over Week 6.

 

Winner: Florida State

A week ago, onlookers could have made a convincing case for Florida State deserving to lose the top spot after allowing 41 points to North Carolina State. The Seminoles' standing at No. 1, however, is no longer in dispute after a perfect week from their perspective.

Following a couple of imperfect victories, FSU finally played like a team befitting the nation's top ranking. A slumping defense shut down Wake Forest to a tune of 126 yards during a 43-3 blowout. 

To make matters better, the AP's No. 2, 3, 4 and 6 schools all suffered losses over the week. ESPN Stats & Info showed the rarity of so many prominent defeats.

Their conquerors, most notably Ole Miss and Mississippi State, will now represent some of the new top challengers, but nobody is catapulting from outside the top 10 to No. 1 overnight.

A perfect series of events gives Florida State much more breathing room atop the college football standings. It's not locked in stone, though. Notre Dame's comeback victory against Stanford sets up a monumental clash against the reigning champions in two weeks.

If the Seminoles knock off the Fighting Irish, they'll have no trouble punching a ticket to the College Football Playoff. For now, they'll retain the prestigious lead slot after dominating a team they were supposed to dominate.

 

Loser: Oregon

At least everyone else lost to fellow highly ranked opponents. Oregon, on the other hand, lost to Pac-12 rival Arizona for the second year in a row.

Marcus Mariota threw for 276 passing yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to upend the Wildcats. Now Oregon is once again on the verge of falling short of a championship.

"It doesn't feel good," Mariota told ESPN.com's Chantel Jennings after the loss. "We left a lot of points on the board, a lot of plays on the board. It's football." 

While Arizona improved to 5-0, the Pac-12's only undefeated squad, it came into Thursday night's game having faced nobody of much significance. The Wildcats had also obtained their last three victories by a combined 14 points.

The Ducks were on the Seminoles' tail after a 4-0 start that included a massive win over Michigan State. That all changed after falling short against Arizona. They can redeem themselves with a victory over UCLA next Saturday, but they'll need some help in order to snag a CFP bid.

 

Winner: Mississippi State

Two straight huge wins over top-10 opponents puts Mississippi State in the forefront of the SEC title discussion. A week after defeating LSU, the Bulldogs responded with a rousing 48-31 victory over Texas A&M, who entered the bout at No. 6.

In a battle of Heisman contenders under center, Dak Prescott delivered the more efficient performance at home. While Hill threw three interceptions and registered 5.9 yards per attempt, Prescott devoured the Aggies through the air and on the ground.

Mississippi State's offense isn't just a one-man show. Josh Robinson and Brandon Halloway combined for 183 rushing yards on 23 carries, highlighted by two Robinson scores.

ESPN Stats & Info also examined the Bulldogs' excellent defensive outing despite what the scoreboard suggests.

With another colossal victory under their belts, they're headed to a cushy top-10 ranking. They get no time to celebrate, however, as Auburn is next on the schedule. If Prescott and Co. escape with another victory on Saturday, they could easily warrant the No. 2 ranking heading into Week 8.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Week of Carnage Is Every SEC Hater's Nightmare

Seldom has a day of college football been more rewarding and intriguing than the Saturday slate that just blew up the AP Top 25 rankings. But as the dust settles, there’s no mistaking that the wreckage has tilted the playoff picture in one distinct direction.

The Southeastern Conference will get two spots in the four-team College Football Playoff. Book it.

That thought no doubt sends the blood pressure soaring for SEC haters throughout the nation. But it’s time for acceptance. The SEC didn’t invent the importance of strength of schedule; it merely has perfected the art of capitalizing on it.

The SEC has never been deeper, as was proven by the remarkable outcomes in Mississippi on Saturday. Ole Miss and Mississippi State clearly have reinvented themselves as bona fide members of the game’s elite after respective wins against Alabama and Texas A&M.

Ole Miss can make the case that it has the nation’s best defense after holding Alabama to 17 points, and Dak Prescott’s five touchdowns against A&M is the biggest throwdown in the Heisman race so far.

With the two Mississippi schools remaining undefeated, it’s impossible to discuss potential playoff scenarios without the SEC West dominating the conversation.

Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss was just close enough to keep Nick Saban’s crew alive. And then there’s seemingly unstoppable Auburn, which pounded LSU for 566 total yards on Saturday while its defense yielded only seven points. The question isn’t whether the SEC West is the best division in 2014, but if it’s the best the college game has ever seen.

Yes, only one SEC West team has the chance to end the season undefeated, and that list will be narrowed this week when Auburn travels to Starkville. But a once-beaten team from the division will still stand above nearly any other team.

It’s true this season, and it was true last season, as Auburn coach Gus Malzahn reminded ESPN SportsCenter viewers during an appearance last week.

"Last year two teams from the West would have been in the Final Four," Malzahn said. "I look for the same thing. It’s the best conference, best division in college football.”

The best Big Ten nominee for the playoffs is Michigan State, which got its game back in gear by beating Nebraska. But the Spartans’ season-opening loss to Oregon looks even worse in the wake of the Ducks starting the snowball of Week 6 upsets Thursday with a loss at home to Arizona.

Florida State is clinging to the No. 1 spot with many poll voters, and the Seminoles’ Oct. 18 date with Notre Dame will eliminate another unbeaten. Baylor vs. Texas Christian this week will knock out another no-loss team.

The Pac-12’s hopes are on Arizona now after UCLA was stunned by Utah. But that conference’s profile has dipped with USC and Stanford both suffering their second losses of the season.

So, SEC haters, what's your ammunition against the nation’s perennially best football conference?

Yes, Florida's 10-9 win over Tennessee was a boring affair, and Vanderbilt is back to being a doormat. But check out Kentucky, 4-1 under Mark Stoops with its only loss coming in triple overtime. And if Todd Gurley doesn’t win the Heisman for Georgia it probably will only be because Prescott looks determined to bring it to Mississippi State for the first time. 

The cry of despair that’s most likely to be heard about having two SEC teams in the playoff is that it’s somehow unfair. Fans from elsewhere in the nation will stomp their feet, tear their hair and proclaim there’s no way two spots should go to the same conference.

OK, SEC haters, let’s pull away from college football for a second and take a closer look at that thought.

Do you like college basketball? How about the Final Four? Great event, right? Does it ever end with complaints about the wrong teams getting there?

Well, take a look at the record since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Having two teams from the same conference in the Final Four has been the rule, not the exception.

In the 30 Final Fours from 1984 on it has happened 19 times, yet no one complains.

The difference there is that the glory has been spread around. The Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Big East and Southeastern conferences all have sent a pair of teams to a Final Four two times apiece in this century alone. Yes, two times apiece, and no one whines about it.

The resistance to the same scenario playing out in college football is because of all the residual resentment from the SEC winning seven consecutive BCS championship games and darn near taking an eighth straight last January.

But chances are that those same SEC haters love players from that conference when their favorite NFL team wins on Sunday. Players with SEC roots once again dominated opening-day rosters of NFL teams.

LSU led the way with 38, followed by Southern California (37), Alabama, (36), Georgia (34), Florida (33) and Florida State (33).

That’s four of the top six spots. Yes, SEC personnel is that good.

So accept it, SEC haters. One loss in your conference is equal to two in the SEC. That’s just the way it is.

And if you don’t believe it you’ll have an opportunity to revisit that thought when the first College Football Playoff rolls around and the SEC has two spots.

 

Tom Weir covered college football as a columnist for USA Today.

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Reality Finally Catches Up with UCLA as Playoff Door Slams Shut

As the sun set in Los Angeles, fans who hadn't gotten their hearts ripped out by Jaelen Strong at the Coliseum saw opportunity in front of them. 

Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M—and perhaps most importantly to the UCLA Bruins, Oregon—had all lost during a week of college football that saw the grim reaper take a victory lap through the polls. 

Not only could UCLA take a hold of the Pac-12 race, but they could've become overnight contenders for a berth into the first-ever College Football Playoff. 

Instead, a little-known assassin by the name of Kendal Thompson and the Utah Utes exposed the Bruins as frauds and shut the door at any hopes of making the playoffs. 

Wins over Virginia, Memphis, Texas and Arizona State had the Bruins rolling early. Memphis gave Ole Miss a run for its money, Virginia could very well end up in the ACC title game, Texas is still a tough team to beat with or without David Ash and Arizona State made it to the Pac-12 title game last year. 

So those four wins were impressive enough to move UCLA to the top 10 of the polls, and with Saturday's massacre of the elite, the Bruins were poised to move into the playoff conversation with a win over Utah, a squad that hadn't beaten a top-10 opponent on the road since 1961. 

But UCLA was a flawed top-10 team. And Utah proved it. 

The Bruins were giving up over 25 points per game heading into the week, including an embarrassing 35 points to Memphis. They had thrashed Arizona State and hung 62 on the board, but that was the first week the Sun Devils were without Taylor Kelly. 

One week later, you saw the difference in Arizona State as backup quarterback Mike Bercovici tossed for over 500 yards against USC. If UCLA were to face this team again, the narrative could drastically change. 

Brett Hundley, as good as he is and as much as UCLA fans want him to be a Heisman Trophy contender, simply hasn't lived up to expectations. In two games this year, he hasn't even thrown for a touchdown. He'd been sacked more times (11) than he found paydirt through the air (seven) heading into Saturday night. 

But how exactly did the Utes, a team that while it was 3-1, lost to lowly Washington State, expose UCLA? 

They pounded the ball and won the battle in the trenches. The Utes racked up 242 yards on the ground to UCLA's 147. Utah averaged 4.4 yards per rush. The Bruins? 2.7. 

Sure, Hundley had 269 yards through the air, a decent number. But 133 of those 269 yards—49 percent—came on two touchdown passes on busted coverage that almost any quarterback in America could've converted on. 

The rest of the game, Hundley was a shell of himself. His offensive line, another weakness for UCLA, allowed Hundley to be sacked a whopping 10 times. 

On the flip side, Thompson showed the nation why the Oklahoma Sooners—who lost to TCU on Saturday—may have very well made the wrong choice when it came to selecting Trevor Knight for the job in Norman. 

While only being asked to throw 13 passes, Thompson still completed 10 of them for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for another 83 yards on 19 carries. 

In all, Thompson either ran or threw for seven of the team's 18 first downs in a game where the rushing attack dominated the tactical advantage Utah had. 

The Utes, a decent let still lower-tier Pac-12 team, never let UCLA, a team that was considered a playoff contender, get into a rhythm offensively. And they controlled the pace of the game on the ground. 

UCLA's playoff chances were a long shot even if they had won this game. They still have games slated with Oregon, Arizona, USC and Stanford. 

But all those games are at home, so a win against Utah on a night when college football was in a complete state of disarray would've set the stage for the Bruins to be on the inside track to represent the Pac-12—the Cinemax of college football—in the playoffs. 

Instead, Utah may very well have killed any hope of UCLA not only winning the Pac-12 and going to the playoffs, but also any chance of the conference having a team selected as one of the final four. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Reality Finally Catches Up with UCLA as Playoff Door Slams Shut

As the sun set in Los Angeles, fans who hadn't gotten their hearts ripped out by Jaelen Strong at the Coliseum saw opportunity in front of them...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Utah vs. UCLA: Game Grades for Bruins

On the legs of Devontae Booker and Kendal Thompson, the Utah Utes were able to upend the UCLA Bruins by a score of 30-28. 

The duo combined for over 200 yards rushing. Credit Kyle Whittingham for inserting Thompson into the game early. It was apparent UCLA did not prepare for the zone-read aspect of Utah's offense. 

On the other side of the coin, UCLA's protection of Brett Hundley was horrific. Hundley was sacked an eye-popping 10 times on the evening. To make matters worse, the play-calling by offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone was bizarre and downright bad. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Check out first-half grades and final game grades for the Bruins. Additional analysis for positional units will also be addressed. 

 

UCLA Bruins Game Grades

Passing Offense

From a statistical standpoint, Hundley was solid. Going 16-of-21 for 269 yards and two touchdowns would normally be a decent night. When Hundley had time to throw the ball, he was effective. When inundated with pressure (as he often was), he had the tendency to drop his head and look at the pressure—as opposed to searching for his receivers down the field. 

Unfortunately, the horrid throw on a screen attempt led to a pick-six by safety Tevin Carter. The early score helped to give Utah immense momentum from the beginning of the contest. 

 

Pass Defense

The secondary wasn't really tested. Due to the success of the Utah ground game, there wasn't much of a need to throw the football down the field. Utah's two quarterbacks combined for only 100 yards passing the entire ballgame. 

However, Utah did capitalize on a deep throw to Dres Anderson for a 42-yard touchdown. UCLA's defense cheated up in hopes of stopping the run. Utah was able to exploit it and go over the top for the score. As former Bruin Flipper Anderson prophesied, his son did "wreck it" for UCLA. 

 

Rushing Offense

The running backs did a decent job. UCLA relied on Paul Perkins extensively in the second quarter for a scoring drive. He finished with 99 yards on 17 carries. Jordon James took over the majority of the carries in the second half and came away with a respectable 51 yards on 11 carries. 

The offensive line was a different story. Hundley was sacked 10 times on the evening. Yes, that's not a typo. Nate Orchard lived in the UCLA backfield for the duration of the contest. The UCLA tackles weren't quick enough to deal with Utah's speed rush, and the interior of UCLA's offensive line didn't obstruct the exotic blitzing schemes of the Utes' defense well enough. 

In short, it was both an embarrassing and shocking effort by the group.

 

Rush Defense

There were times UCLA did do a nice job of bottling up Booker. However, the threat of Thompson running the football made things difficult. The zone-read was an aspect of Utah's offense not extensively used coming into tonight. I'm sure UCLA did not think Thompson would play virtually the entire contest. 

Booker broke numerous tackles and ran extremely hard. On the night, Utah rushed for 242 yards on 55 carries. UCLA's biggest problem came on containment. The defensive ends crashed very hard on the zone-read option exchange. Thompson simply pulled the ball out of Booker's belly and ran on the edge when the ends committed. 

Utah killed UCLA on this multiple times. 

 

Special Teams

Credit Utah's supreme special teams unit for not kicking to Ishmael Adams. On the one kickoff return Adams had, he ran for 72 yards. Unfortunately for the Bruins, a holding call negated the big return. 

The missed field-goal attempts at the end of the game also were unfortunate. Ka'imi Fairbairn's second-attempt from 50 yards away just narrowly missed wide. It was a long kick, but one Fairbairn needs to make. Punting from Matt Mengel was solid on the night, kicking with a 45.5 yards-per-punt average. 

Although no points came from it, Utah's surprise onside kick recovery in the first half was a negative. The Utes have a famed special teams unit. UCLA needed to be prepared for anything and everything. 

 

Coaching

The defense didn't adjust well enough on the zone-read. I'll give Jeff Ulbrich a bit of a pass. No one expected the mobile quarterback Thompson to play as much as he did. I'm sure UCLA did not dedicate a ton of time to defending against this wrinkle. A ton of credit does go to Whittingham for integrating this aspect of the game.

Offensively, Mazzone's play-calling was abysmal and puzzling. Hundley was pressured all night long—as evidenced by the 10 times he was sacked. In order to combat against this pressure, one would assume Mazzone would opt to throw slants, screens, quick-throws, run draws or even roll Hundley out of the pocket. 

NONE of these things occurred. It was if the UCLA play-calling was subjugated to four or five plays. There was no imagination, no creativity and no adaptation. 

In a word, it was bizarre.

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Utah vs. UCLA: Game Grades for Bruins

On the legs of Devontae Booker and Kendal Thompson, the Utah Utes were able to upend the UCLA Bruins by a score of 30-28. The duo combined for over 200 yards rushing. Credit Kyle Whittingham for inserting Thompson into the game early...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Rankings Week 7: B/R's Official Top 25

The Purge isn't just a crazy sociological idea that was made into a pair of bad movies, it's also what we might as well call the just-completed weekend of college football.

Unbeaten and ranked teams got picked off like targets in a child's carnival game, with nearly every team in last week's top 25 facing major adversity over the past few days.

As a result, the Bleacher Report Top 25 got itself a makeover.

This week's poll was voted on by 19 members of Bleacher Report's college football team: writers Keith Arnold, Ben Axelrod, Phil Callihan, Michael Felder, Justin Ferguson, Kyle Kensing, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Brian Pedersen, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence and Greg Wallace, as well as editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Max Rausch.

Each voter submits his or her ballot based on observations made during the just-completed week's games. Teams receive 25 points for a first-place vote, all the way down to one point for being ranked 25th. And then the top 25 vote-getters are ranked in order of their point totals.

Check out Bleacher Report's Week 7 poll, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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UCLA vs. Utah: How Utes' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

With a 30-28 home defeat to the Utah Utes on Saturday night, the No. 8 UCLA Bruins didn't necessarily shut the door on their hopes of making the four-team playoff at the end of the year, but the door is barely ajar.

Bruins kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn had a chance to win the game with a 50-yard field-goal attempt, but his kick sailed wide right, bringing a close to what was one of the craziest college football Saturday's you're ever going to see.

Following such a frenzied day of action, Grantland's Matt Hinton believes any sort of playoff discussion is ultimately futile:

Of course, a ton can change between now and the end of the season, but it's still kinda fun to at least get a general idea of the playoff picture to this point in the year.

Had UCLA won, then it almost certainly would've climbed into the Top Four in the polls. Going by The Associated Press rankings, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas A&M all lost this week, paving the way for the eighth-ranked Bruins to see a healthy rise up the standings.

Since that didn't happen, the biggest winners after the Bruins' defeat are Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Rebels beat the Crimson Tide, while the Bulldogs toppled the Aggies. Both teams are already building strong playoff cases.

Ole Miss will likely vault into the top four, and the Bulldogs might, too, with so few teams standing out from the pack. Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott called the win over A&M a "Mississippi State-ment," per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.

Before the UCLA game, ESPN's Anish Shroff left out the Bruins altogether in his projected playoff in favor of Notre Dame, which beat No. 14 Stanford earlier in the day:

The Fighting Irish and Michigan State will also get a nice boost up the standings after Saturday night. They were No. 9 and No. 10 in the AP Poll, respectively.

With that said, those two will more than likely still be on the outside looking in on the playoff for now. It's hard seeing either vaulting that high up the standings, especially with Ole Miss' win.

When looking only at the Pac-12, the picture is getting fairly bleak already. USA Today's Dan Wolken doesn't see a team elevating itself into the Top Four after everything that's happened so far:

The Bruins' chances of making the four-team playoff aren't completely extinguished. Considering how many Top 25 teams lost on Saturday alone, it would be foolish to write any top team off.

The Pac-12 is even more of a grab bag after USC's loss to Arizona State earlier in the day. The only team in the entire conference that remains unbeaten is Arizona, and the Wildcats still have USC, UCLA, Utah and Arizona State to play, not to mention the Pac-12 Championship Game, should they get that far.

With the way the 2014 season has unfolded, would anybody be that surprised if Arizona ran the table and won the national championship?

Nothing is sacred anymore.

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Utah vs. UCLA: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Utah Utes utilized a late field goal from Andy Phillips to notch a stunning 30-28 upset victory over the No. 8-ranked UCLA Bruins on Saturday night, capping off one of the craziest college football days in recent memory.

UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn had a chance to win it in the final seconds, but his 50-yard effort missed wide and gave the Utes the shocking win.

Here is a look at the quarter-by-quarter score from the contest:

The Bruins players came into the game secure in the knowledge that a composed win over the Utes could drastically improve  their rankings. Alabama, Oregon, Texas A&M and Oklahoma—all ranked ahead of UCLA in The Associated Press poll coming into Week 6—lost to lower-ranked opponents in a topsy-turvy weekend. It was a rare opportunity to vault up the rankings without having to beat another top-25 opponent to do so.

Unfortunately, the Bruins came out flat and looked like they would surely add to the chaos already at hand in college football.

Perhaps feeling the pressure to perform after so many upsets earlier in the day, the Bruins punted on their first two possessions and struggled to move the ball at all in the first quarter.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, one of several dark-horse Heisman candidates at this point in the season, put his team in a quick 7-0 hole when Utah defensive back Tevin Carter picked off an ill-advised pass and returned it 27 yards for a shocking touchdown. 

Utah showed it wasn't going to play it safe and try to eke out a victory over the Bruins, nailing an early psychological blow by recovering an onside kick following the return touchdown. Quarterback Kendal Thompson was unable to do anything with the extra possession, however.

After another Bruins drive ended in a punt, the Utes held the ball into the second quarter and went up 14-0 soon after the restart on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to wide receiver Dres Anderson.

Head coach Jim Mora opted to give the ball to running back Paul Perkins early and often on the next possession, and he rewarded his team's faith with a four-yard touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 82-yard drive.

Both offenses stalled out after that point, extending drives but failing to push the ball into scoring range. The offensive line did little to protect Hundley. The Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondheimer gave his thoughts on Twitter:

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted that Hundley struggles with pressure at times and looks to scramble before going through his progressions:

The Utes managed to add a field goal just before the end of the first half to make the score 17-7 and really put pressure on UCLA to come up with an effective game plan to avoid the unthinkable.

The Bruins opted to ramp up the ground game in the third quarter to mostly positive results. They cut the Utes' lead to three on a one-yard plunge from sophomore defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, who briefly stole the spotlight from linebacker Myles Jack as a moonlighting ball-carrier.

Utah didn't blink and scored on the next possession. Running back Devontae Booker, who finished the game with 156 yards rushing, finished off a 12-play drive with a bruising six-yard touchdown run to give the Utes a 24-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News noted Booker benefited from some suspect Bruins tackling:

Hundley, in the midst of a sluggish, off-kilter performance, showed early in the final quarter why he could become a fine QB at the next level. Starting from his own 7-yard line, Hundley withstood the pressure in a collapsing pocket and floated a perfect pass to hit an in-stride Devin Fuller on a wheel route down the left sideline. Fuller outran everyone en route to a 93-yard touchdown that again cut the Utes' lead down to three.

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel summed up Hundley's cool under pressure:

Hundley narrowly avoided a safety on the Bruins' next possession. The offensive line, still leaking like a sieve at this point, allowed several Utes to collapse the pocket and force Hundley backward and toward his own goal line, but the Arizona native held tough and let UCLA escape the failed drive with a punt.

Utah then got another field goal from Phillips to take a 27-21 lead with just over six minutes remaining. Thompson was especially flashy carrying the ball in the second half, thrilling fans with a stunning spin move late in the game. Wang gave his thoughts on the play:

The Bruins, who hadn't enjoyed a lead throughout the entire game, finally broke through on a 40-yard touchdown strike from Hundley to unheralded freshman wideout Eldridge Massington.

The 28-27 mark on the scoreboard energized the crowd, but the Utes had plenty of time to make a final push of their own. They pushed through the Bruins defense with a steady mix of runs from Booker and Thompson, setting up Phillips for a field-goal try with 37 seconds remaining. The kick was, powerful straight and true and gave Utah a two-point lead with 34 seconds remaining.

This fan believed the Utes gave Hundley too much time to work with, despite the fact the Bruins had no timeouts remaining:

Hundley moved his team into field-goal range and set up Fairbairn with a chance to hit a 55-yarder for the win. His first attempt was well off, but the officials called a running-into-the-kicker penalty and gave him another chance, this time from 50 yards out. SportsCenter has the play:

Wide right, and a wide open race for the College Football Playoff.

Th disappointing result for the Bruins opens up not only the race for the playoff, but it turns the Pac-12 into an unknown commodity as well. Arizona State defeated USC just over a week after getting drubbed by the Bruins, while Notre Dame defeated Stanford on Saturday afternoon.

Combine these results with Oregon's Thursday loss to an undefeated Arizona, and the Pac-12 race is as wide open as it has been in years. If Oregon or UCLA can win the Pac-12 championship without accruing another loss, they could find themselves back in the hunt for the national championship title.

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